The Magic To Giving Meaningful Feedback

I’m delighted to publish this guest post by 12 year old Sebastian Hurt!

Have you ever given someone feedback, and the minute it came out you wished you stayed quiet?

I was nine years old and attending the National Speaker’s Association Youth camp that takes place during the NSA Conference.

At the time I was a fledgling magician starving for any new trick, so my magical mentor, David Dye, pointed me in the direction of some amazing magicians at NSA. One of them being the awesome “boring meeting vanquisher,” Jon Petz.

Jon and I got to talking and we followed the magician tradition where each performer does a trick. So I did my best rinky dink trick and although I could barely hold a deck of cards, Jon applauded.

He then launched into an elegant, funny and amazing routine. However because I was not ready to be amazed and just accept the awesomeness, I tried to look smart and give him some feedback. I said, “that’s cool. But maybe next time you could do it with a little more youthful enthusiasm.”

I could tell from the horror on my mom’s face that this was not the best choice.

What Jon did next was so funny. He did the next trick and ran around the expo hall floor pretending to get an imaginary crowd hyped up with his youthful enthusiasm.

“How’s that, Seb?”

I learned a lot that day about feedback.

  • Never give feedback to impress others.
  • Be sure any feedback you give is to help them, not you.
  • Don’t take ridiculous criticism too seriously—take it with grace and a laugh.

Now at twelve, I try to balance my youthful enthusiasm with a good dose of confident humility when giving feedback.

What feedback-suggestions can you add to Sebastian’s list?

Sebastian Hurt is a 7th grader who works to make ordinary days magical, and the co-author of Glowstone Peak., a children’s leadership book about courage, influence and hope, which he wrote with his parents, Karin Hurt and David Dye.